Lead counsel to Plateau State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) gubernatorial candidate in the 2019 general elections, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has disclosed that its witnesses are being threatened with instant death if they testify at the tribunal.The candidate, Jeremiah Useni, had gone to the election petition tribunal to challenge the victory of Governor Simon Lalong, who was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Ozekhome urged the tribunal to take the death threat seriously, as the witnesses confided in him and the petitioners that they would meet their death summarily should they come to testify against the governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
To convince the tribunal of the seriousness of the threat, he cited the case of one man from Jos North Council who testified in the election matter of 2015 but had his house burnt down leading to his relocation with his family to a hotel in Jos.
“I want to draw the attention of the tribunal to the sad and deadly incident of what happened to the witness after his testimony which did not go down well with some people,” he said.Immediately the tribunal sat, Ozekhome stood to address its members over its ruling and earlier threat that should the petitioners (Useni and PDP) play any further pranks by delaying proceedings, it would throw out the matter.
But counsel to Lalong, Pius Akubo (SAN) raised an objection, saying Wednesday’s matter had been laid to rest and that Ozekhome should not revisit it so that they could make progress, as the tribunal was time-bound.Counsel to APC, Garba Pwul (SAN) also described the allegation of death threat, as baseless and false and could not be substantiated.At the end of arguments, the tribunal chairman, Justice Haleemat Salman, allowed Ozekhome to speak.
Speaking, Ozekhome pointed out that he was above 60 years of age and had spent 38 years in the bar, adding that as the leader of his team, the case was theirs and they would not want to waste the tribunal’s time.Thereafter, he continued calling the witnesses, as he had 15 more to call having called 66 witnesses earlier.Lalong and Useni left the tribunal almost simultaneously amid tight security being the first time Lalong would appear since the case began.